Witch Hazel – Queen Of The Winter
Very few things signal the near end of winter to a gardener like Witch Hazels (Hamamelis sp.) exploding with color before even leaves appear. It’s spidery, almost alien like flowers offer a warmth much needed by this time of the winter. The red, orange and yellow flowers of this small tree or woodland shrub even offer a sweet scent to enjoy. Despite their fragile appearance, the flowers are actually quite durable.
The sheer diversity of flowers makes this plant near the top of our must-have shrub list and, having said that, still consider it underused in gardens.
Species and Varieties
Cultural Needs of With Hazels
Witch Hazels prefer average, medium moisture and well-drained soil. They can grow in full sun to partial shade, but flower best in full sun. Prune in spring after flowers to control the shape and size of the plant. Witch Hazel is generally hardy to USDA Zone 5. There are no serious pests although caterpillars and Japanese Beatles may chew on the leaves. Also watch for powdery mildew and leaf spot.
Uses In The Garden
Witch Hazels are excellent in a shrub border or woodland planting. They can also be used as a specimen plant due to their fragrance, late winter flower and good fall color.
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